Decision by Default : Peacetime Conscription and British Defence 1919–39 book cover
1st Edition

Decision by Default
Peacetime Conscription and British Defence 1919–39

  • Available for pre-order on March 10, 2023. Item will ship after March 31, 2023
ISBN 9780367635527
March 31, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
258 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
SAVE $12.00
was $40.00
USD $28.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Britain’s vast losses of men in the first world war produced a revulsion against conscription. Originally published in 1972, Peter Dennis here describes how conscription was introduced once more in 1939, when pressure from within Britain and from France forced the British Government to reverse its position.

With the use of original sources, Peter Dennis explores the development of British military policy between the wars, from the period of readjustment and realignment immediately after the first world war, up to the breakdown of the Chamberlain government’s pledge not to introduce conscription in peacetime. He points out that the politicians and the public were not afraid of conscription itself, but of conscription in peacetime as the forerunner of continental military adventures in alliance with France. He shows how the battles over conscription had a marked effect on the indecision of military thinking, and how, in 1939, conscription finally became the crucial issue in Britain’s preparation for war.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements.  Abbreviations.  Introduction.  1. Readjustment and Realignment 1919-28  2. The Breakdown of Locarno 1929-35  3. The Debate on Defence 1935-6  4. ‘Will Britain Fight to the Last French Soldier?’  5. Limited Liability 1937  6. ‘An Unforgettable Past, an Unpredictable Future’ December 1937–March 1938  7. ‘An Obligation of Honour, a Counsel of Expediency’ March–September 1938  8. ‘Peace with Honour’ October–December 1938  9. The Call for Volunteers January–March 1939  10. Does Britain Mean Business? March 1939  11. The Introduction of Conscription April 1939.  Select Bibliography.  Index.

View More



Peter Dennis